Roughly 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has autism – a neurological and behavioral disorder in which those afflicted may have difficulty socializing and communicating with others. Its levels of severity vary as well as do autism’s initial symptoms.
The onset of autism usually takes place before the child turns 3. The earlier the child is diagnosed the better chances are for him or her to lead a more routine life. Many families know that having a child with autism can bring numerous challenges.
Some children show symptoms of autism in the first few months of their lives, while others a bit later. The latter group includes children who seem to be developing normally until they reach 24 months of age.
Potential signs of autism in children
Here are some possible signs that your child has autism:
- Limited eye contact.
- No smiles, signs of warmth or even recognition.
- Is non-verbal or has delayed language development. The child doesn’t make vocal sounds, babble or speak.
- Becomes upset by changes in routine. For example, the child may have a tantrum if you drive a different route home than the one you usually take.
- No gestures such as pointing or waving.
- Oversensitivity to sounds, textures in food and smells.
- Grows quite uncomfortable in crowds.
- Unusual body movements such as rocking and flapping.
Challenges faced by Hispanic families
Hispanic children are diagnosed at a lower rate of autism compared with white children, but this can be misleading. Many health experts suspect that the main reason Hispanic children aren’t diagnosed is that their families don’t have access to the experts who can identify the condition.
They also face challenges that other parents of autistic children don’t. Sometimes a Hispanic child’s delays in communication are attributed to his or her exposure to two languages rather than considered as an early sign of autism.
The language barrier can prove challenging, too, with Spanish-speaking families. They may have to make several extra visits to health experts in determining whether their child has autism. And if a diagnosis is confirmed, they next must find a way to obtain services for their child.
There is no cure for autism, but many families have been able to adapt to the needs of their child who may have it.